To Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Martin Cauchon, on Same Sex Marriage, June 12, 2003

June 12, 2003

June 12, 2003

The Hon. Martin Cauchon, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
East Memorial Building, 4th Floor 284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Dear Minister Cauchon,

On behalf of the 260,000 members of the CAW-Canada, I write regarding the Ontario Court of Appeal's recent decision recognizing that lesbians and gays have an equal right to marry. The Ontario Court joins the Courts in British Columbia and Quebec in upholding this right.

The Ontario Court of Appeal was unanimous in its finding that the exclusion of lesbians and gays from the right to marry offended the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court ordered that definition of marriage be "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others". This new definition has immediate effect.

The Court said, and our union recognizes, that same-sex couples are capable of forming long, lasting, loving and intimate relationships. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry perpetuates the opposite view and leads society to believe that same-sex relationships are not worthy of the same respect and recognition as opposite-sex relationships.

The court rulings from three provinces on this issue could not be more clear. We cannot turn back the clock to the days when lesbian and gay relationships were denigrated and denied - nor should we. Within the CAW, we have made a commitment to ensuring equality for gay and lesbian members by negotiating same sex spousal benefits in contracts with virtually all of our major employers. This process has, at times, been controversial, but our union recognizes that, on issues of human rights, we cannot wait for absolute consensus before moving forward.

Already, dozens of Canadian same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in response to the Ontario Court of Appeal decision. Appealing this decision would create unneeded uncertainty and delay for many lesbian and gay couples who simply want the same recognition and respect for their relationships that heterosexual couples take for granted. The cost and delay entailed in yet another appeal on this issue cannot be justified.

I urge you not to appeal this case.

Yours truly,
Buzz Hargrove


cc: Right Honourable Jean Chretien
Stephen Harper, Leader, Canadian Alliance
Jack Layton, Leader, NDP
Peter McKay, Leader, Progressive Conservatives
Gilles Duceppe, Leader, Bloc Quebecois
Jim O'Neil, Assistants, Lisa Kelly

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